Nanaimo Bars

What are Nanaimo bars? Well, Nanaimo is a place in Canada and they are Canadian but other than that I don’t know much else about them other than I never seem to have any leftover when I make them.

I’ve never seen them in Ireland and I only know of one other Irish person who knew what they were when I made them and that’s because she used to live in Canada. They have a chocolate biscuit base with nuts (either pecans or walnuts) and coconut. The base in then topped with a vanilla custard buttercream and then the whole thing is topped with melted chocolate. I use 74% chocolate which makes them very rich and decadent.

They aren’t complicated to make at all but there are a few parts of the instructions that need to be followed carefully. When adding the egg to the chocolate mixture you need to make sure it’s off the heat and you do it very very slowly. If you don’t you’ll end up with a scrambled egg-chocolate mixture and I don’t know about you but to me, that sounds kind of manky.

There’s a fine line between spreadable buttercream and a runny buttery mess so be careful when adding the milk to the buttercream mixture.

I like the 74% chocolate topping but it might not be for everyone. If you don’t like your chocolate as dark I’d go for a 50% chocolate. I wouldn’t go any lower than that, they’d lose the chocolate flavour.

I wouldn’t call these a show stopper but because 9/10 people have never heard of them or tasted them before they go down well.

Middle Layer
Middle Layer
Top Layer
Top Layer




Recipe below:


Nanaimo Bars


Base Layer

  • 200 g Digestive Biscuits
  • 120 g Butter
  • 50 g Caster Sugar
  • 50 g Walnuts/Pecans
  • 50 g Desiccated Coconut
  • 30 g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Egg

Middle Layer

  • 450 g Icing Sugar
  • 100 g Butter
  • 30 g Custard Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 10-50 ml Milk

Top Layer

  • 200 g Chocolate
  • 35 g Butter


Base Layer - Biscuit/Nut Layer

  1. Line an 8x8 tin with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. When the butter is melted remove from the heat and add the sugar and cocoa powder.
  4. Beat the egg and slowly whisk it into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Return to a low heat and whisk constantly for 2/3 min.
  6. Remove from the heat and add in the digestives, pecans/walnuts and coconut.
  7. When the mixture is combined transfer it to the greased tin and spread as evenly as possible over the bottom.
  8. Put the tin in the fridge and leave it there for an hour at a minimum. If you're in a hurry you can put it in the freezer.

Middle Layer - Vanilla Custard Buttercream

  1. Beat the butter with a hand mixer or electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the custard powder and continue mixing.
  3. Add half of the icing sugar and mix until combined.
  4. Add the rest of the sugar along with the vanilla extract and if needed, the milk. The mixture should be smooth and spreadable but not too runny.
  5. Spread the buttercream mixture over the base layer and put it back in the fridge for another 30-45 minutes.

Top Layer - Chocolate

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.
  2. Spread the chocolate over the custard layer and put it back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before slicing.